A rose ≠ is a rose ≠ is a rose – or why matching with skills without a precise level is as good as useless.


Having touched on the subject of skills a couple of days ago in the post Knowledge ≠ Skills ≠ Experience – or why a consistent distinction between these terms is more important than ever, I would like to take a closer look at the topic today.

Job matching is a process that has gained popularity in recent years as a tool to, for example, match individuals with job vacancies based on their skills. While the concept of matching skills seems reasonable, it does not make sense to match skills without knowing the exact level of all explicit and even more implicit skills, especially those that come from previous work experience.

But this is exactly how most systems available on the market work, the vast majority of job boards and aggregators, ATSs, and other career tools on the web and the recruiter side. The reason for this is that none of today’s popular taxonomies and knowledge graphs, such as ESCO, O*Net, Lightcast Open Skills, etc., provide such levels and thus do not provide meaningful differentiation. Together with other shortcomings, such as the still widespread use of keyword matching, and matching without context, which I have highlighted in previous posts, there are almost always incomplete or even incorrect matching results and many other negative implications that result from this inadequate process using outdated technology.

To show that skill matching without validated levels makes no sense at all, here are some examples:

Playing tennis could be found as a skill on my CV. However, we all know that my tennis skills cannot be compared or matched in any way to those of, say, Roger Federer. Even when we talk about the same thing, we mean something completely different. Let’s take another example to illustrate this: I can cook. It’s not all that bad, and it’s good enough for home use. And yet I am miles away from the professional cooking skills needed in a successful restaurant kitchen. I would definitely be thrown out of any kitchen after no more than two days because I would have disrupted the entire well-rehearsed kitchen operation with my incompetence. Not all tennis is the same and not all cooking is the same. And so not all Python programming is the same, and not all plumbing is the same, and not all writing is the same, and so on.

So one of the main reasons why matching skills without knowing the exact level of proficiency is problematic is that it can lead to a mismatch between the job requirements and the candidate’s skills. For example, if a candidate has a skill listed on their resumé but only has a basic knowledge of that skill, or the skill has not been used in the workplace for many years and is therefore no longer up to date, they may not be able to perform the job effectively. Conversely, if a candidate has a skill that is not explicitly listed on their CV, but has advanced knowledge of it, for example through continuous, practical use in work activities, they may be overlooked for a job for which they are well suited.

Another problem with matching skills without knowing the exact level of proficiency is that it can lead to candidates being pigeonholed into certain roles. For example, if a candidate has a particular skill that matches a job vacancy, they may be hired for that job, even if they have other skills that might be better suited to a different role. This can limit the candidate’s career growth and development, as they may not have the opportunity to explore other areas of interest or develop new skills that could be valuable to the organization.

It is also important to note that skills are not the only factor that should be considered when matching candidates with vacancies. Other factors such as personality, work ethic, and cultural fit are equally important and cannot be determined solely based on a candidate’s skills. A person’s work experience can shed light on their personality, work ethic, and cultural fit, which can be crucial in finding the right match.

In conclusion, job matching based on skills without knowing the exact level of all explicit and implicit skills is not an effective strategy. Skills alone do not determine a person’s suitability for a role. It is essential to consider a candidate’s work experience, personality, work ethic, and cultural fit to ensure the right match. Failure to do so will obviously lead to mismatches and missed opportunities for both the candidate and the organization.

So please stop the nonsense and the sadly widespread fixation on skills matching as being so modern and meaningful. Skills are and will remain just one of many relevant dimensions that should be included in job matching and/or any recruitment process. And if it has to be skills matching, then please only with relevant skill levels and even better with as much context as possible. You owe it not only to Roger Federer and all the talented and hard-working professional chefs in the world. Learn more about our products JANZZon! and JANZZsme! and how we can overcome the limitations of today’s inadequate job and skills matching.